This long sleeved, simple boat top can be made in only one hour –assuming you have a fully functioning sewing machine. The top is comfortable to wear and very functional. It can be worn in a wide variety of settings and complements all kinds of different looks.
I was a little bit annoyed while making this top. As you know, I took a few weeks off to go to Europe looking for inspiration. I brought with me one of those hand-held sewing machines and was planning to share with you 4 or 5 projects made with it, so in case you ever needed to make something on the go, you could do the same thing. Sadly, I didn't check to see if the machine actually worked! So I didn't manage to get any use out of the thing at all. If anyone has had any success with a machine like THIS, I'd certainly love to hear about it in the comments below.
After many attempts trying to make the machine work, I decided to take it apart and finally managed to sew a little. However, the tension was never good enough to make anything that I would be happy to wear. Needless to say, the machine ended in the rubbish bin. That was plan A. On to plan B, sew by hand.
I decided to try to answer the question: “Can you really sew knit by hand?” And if so, what stitch is the best? As it turns out, I had to use a combination of a back stitch and a running stitch but it seemed to come out OK. The only reason I ended sewing the simple boat neck top pattern by hand is that I packed the wrong pile of clothes. More on that later.
For Your Consideration
Are you a beginner and afraid of knits? I hope you read this article about Sewing Stretchy Knits first before you proceed any further. Understanding knits and the types there are is a crucial step in buying the right fabric for your project.
The simple boat neck top pattern is really easy to make. I used a linen jersey knit with a very appropriate print of the map of the world. (Please see the image below.) You can use rayon, cotton or a combination of all, soft and drapey is best since the sleeves are kimono style. I love this top since it is very easy to make and even easier to wear with a pair of jeans, culottes or a pencil skirt.
When I got back home, I made another one for this tutorial which you can see above. This time I only used a small stitch on my serger with no hemming was required. In total it took me 35 minutes to make this top.
- 1 3/4″ yard of rayon jersey knit or soft ribbed knit 60″ wide
- thread to match
The exact fabric I used is on the right side of this selection.
- jersey needle #70
- sewing machine (optional)
- serger (optional)
Finished Garment Measurements
|XL||52 1/2″||23 1/2″||38″||11″|
|2XL||54 1/2″||24″||39 1/2″||12 1/2″|
|3XL||55 1/2″||25″||41 1/2″||14 1/2″|
How to Sew the Simple Boat Neck Top Pattern
For best results, prewash your fabric and dry and then leave the fabric resting on a table overnight.
There are only two pieces to this simple boat neck top pattern. The boat neck neckline allowed me to make just one pattern piece and use it both as front and back. That is the reason you must use a very soft and drapey fabric.
If you have a four thread overlocker, go ahead and sew the top with the overlocker and seal or clean all the seam allowances including the wrists and hemline. Please note the seam allowance is 1/4″ for all seams. It is perfectly fine not to hem this top, but for that, you will need to change the serger to a smaller stitch.
Step One: Sew the Arms and Shoulders
Place the back print side up. Align the front on the top print side down. Prints are together. Sewing along the arms and shoulders as indicated in the diagram showing location 1.
Step Two: Sew the Sides
Sew the sides making sure you do not stretch the fabric when you are sewing. Sew along the seams indicated in the diagram showing location 2.
Step Three: Sew the Boat Neck to Seal the Fabric Edge
The best way to seal the seam is with the use of your serger using a small to medium stitch. This will depend on your serger. Take a picture of your current settings. Then, practice on a scrap of fabric before you decided to serge the top. If you don't have a serger, use your sewing machine with a small zigzag. If you're doing this project by hand, you can use a running stitch.
Step Four: Sew the Wrists Hem to Seal the Fabric Edge
This is the same as the neck.
Step Five: Sew the Hem to Seal the Fabric Edge
This is the same as the neck and wrists.
If your machine has a stretch stitch use it to make the hems at the neck, wrists, and bottom. Try the stitch on a scrap of fabric. If your fabric curls use a walking foot.
If you are using ITY knit the need for a zigzag or the use of the overlocker is not really necessary since this type of fabric does not ravel.
I made this top by hand, but you don't have to. Use your sewing machine and in under an hour you will have a top to wear.
I know what you are thinking by now, why did I? Remember when I mentioned I packed the wrong pile of clothes? Two days before traveling I usually make three piles of clothes: The Yes Pile, the Maybe Pile and Probably Not Pile.
The Yes Pile has toiletries, makeup, jewelry, a light trench coat, a cardigan, socks and a very large silk scarf that can be worn as a top. One pencil skirt, three blouses, a pair of jeans, one pair of walking shorts one long summer dress, one short black dress, and one in a “current fashion”.
The Maybe Pile contains things I like that might not be practical. Wedge sandals, stilettos, miniskirt, tight jersey knit dresses, white crispy tops, trendy tops in none natural fibers, dry cleanable dresses and pants, tight outfits that I can wear if I fast for two days. Spaghetti strap silk tops and dresses, pencil skirts in light colors. I think you get the picture.
The Probably Not Pile is everything I love but probably can't wear because I have put on weight or it is inappropriate. Thick fabrics or too dressy for example.
Well, I ended up taking only the Maybe Pile. I could make things work, but I was freezing in the cold of the Helsinki summer and cooking in the 105+ degrees (40+ degrees C) heat of Spain. Dressing in layers saved the day and this is one of the tops that kept me warm during the very long, cold and windy days of the Baltic Region.
I am back home now and have since made another simple boat neck top which you can see in this tutorial. This time I only used three threads and a small stitch on my serger with no hemming required. It took me only 35 minutes to make this top and I'm sure you too can make on in under an hour.
Hope you enjoy it. Until Next time!
Just wanted to stop, and say thank you, for this lovely pattern.
Hi there just getting ready to make this, I am a absolute beginner and I am a bit lost as to the language used for how to do the neck and hems do I fold over or not? Sorry I am sure it sounds like an idiot question…!
Hi Susie, Just need to use the serger on the edges if you do not have a serger zigzag the seam allowance (Use a medium to large zigzag) then fold about 1/8″ or the entire zigzag then topstitch. If this is still not clear to you. Send me an email and I am happy to help you further (with picutres)
Which size would I pick for a 42″ chest? I’m not sure how to go about the conversion between womens and mens sizes. Thanks!
L or XL depends on where the weight is distributed. If the person puts weight on the top of the shoulders and neck use XL if the person is fit L will be fine.
So happy to have found this simple yet lovely pattern! Thank you. I a PNW girl, recently moved to Virginia on a new adventure but this heat and humidity has been a “challenge”, lol. I am drafting my own now (to fit my measurements) and will use light sheer linens or cotton gauze. A bonus is I am a freelance fabric designer (LilyOake), so this is a great way to show off my florals. I’m going to have fun with this!
Hi Paula, perhaps we can collaborate with some prints for fabric one day? Do make sure you make all the necessary changes since this pattern was drafted for knits only. Kind Regards,
[…] Boat Neck Top Pattern – One Hour Project so-sew-easy.com/…? #freesewingpatter #fabrichunting […]
Really like the look of this. I’m going to try it with a V neck.
Hi Pam, sounds great, let me know how it turned out, I am curious 🙂
I don’t see any grey lines of the pdf pattern pages so it is not matching up when I try to tape them together. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for your help.
Hi Marcia are still having trouble putting this together?
Made this pattern up last night using a navy georgette – with no stretch. It was perfect and I have it on this morning. Many thanks!
Thank you for your feedback! very happy it works for woven as well.
This is lovely and, your tips and advice are very much appreciated.
It is my pleasure!
Would it fit a very full busy? Or should some sort of FBA be done too?
I don’t think you do but then I don’t know how much bust we are talking about.
I am old (87) short (4’11”) and a tad overweight, so I do not wear garments intended for young svelte women. But when I looked at this pattern, I thought what a nice and comfortable nightgown it would make. I would make it a tad wider at the bottom to accommodate hips. It would be super comfortable to sleep or lounge in.
I like the version with the sleeves rolled up but I wonder is it possible to just shorten the sleeves so they don’t need rolling up?
Yes just shorten the sleeves that should work.
bummer about the machine. it should have been the ANSWER. Love your stuff and have made one or two. Keep up the great inspirations!